IELTS® Academic Reading Practice 6

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Human Right/Left Hand Dominance

Research suggests that humans are not the only members of several species in the animal kingdom which exhibit handedness, meaning the preference for one hand over the other. Handedness is related to lateral asymmetry, which refers to physical and functional aspects between sides of the brain. It appears that nine out of ten humans throughout history have preferred to use their right hand, and that eight of ten were right foot dominant. Australian professor Bryan Turner at Deakin University has concluded that handedness is a part of overall sidedness through his research on left handedness. Turner believes that there is something methodical about this distinctive asymmetry found exclusively in humans. He says “Humans think in categories: black and white, up and down, left and right. It is a system of signs that enables us to categorize phenomena that are essentially ambiguous,” when describing lateral asymmetry.

A genetic link, or some kind of inherited trait, has been also attributed to hand preference, though there is no guarantee that a right or left handed person’s child will have the same hand preference. On the other hand, left-handedness does tend to run in families. In fact, around 6 percent of children whose  parents are both right hand dominant will end up left-handed. Meanwhile, among children with two left-handed parents, up to 40 percent grow up left-handed, too. The occurrence of left-handed children with one left-handed and one right-handed parent typically ranges from about 15 to 20 percent. Amazingly enough,one in six pairs of identical twins will differ in their handed preference in spite of having the same genes.

If hand preference goes beyond genetics alone, there must be other unknown variables at play. To learn more, researchers have closely studied the brain in regard to this subject. French surgeon and anthropologist, Dr. Paul Broca, found that patients in the 1860’s who had lost the ability to speak due to a stroke (a blood clot in the brain) would also become paralyzed on the right side of their body. From this, Broca realized that because the left hemisphere of the brain controls the right half of the body and vice versa, the brain damage must have been in the brain’s left hemisphere. Psychologists have theorized that 95 percent of right-handed people’s language centers are in the left hemisphere of their brains, while 5 percent have language centers on the right side. Surprisingly enough, left-handed people do not show the exact reverse of this, and instead, a majority have their language center located in the left hemisphere, with some 30 percent in the right hemisphere.

At the Australian National University in Canberra, Dr. Brinkman has suggested that human speech evolved alongside a preference for the right hand. From her research, Brinkman believes that one side of the brain became specialized for fine motor skills, which are necessary for speech and as the brain continued to evolve for speech, the right-hand preference emerged. According to Brinkman, the majority of left-handed people exhibit left hemisphere dominance with some capacity in the right hemisphere as well. Dr. Brinkman has observed that a left-handed person with brain-damage to the left hemisphere is often able to recover speech ability more effectively. She thinks this phenomenon can be explained by left-handed people’s tendency towards bilateral speech function.

Dr. Brinkman's research has expanded her research into primates as well. In her studies of macaque monkeys, she found that the year-old babies appeared to learn either hand preference from their mothers. In humans, on the other hand, specialization of the two hemispheres’ functions actually creates physical differences in the anatomy of the brain, with areas associated with speech production often being larger on the left side than on the right. Because monkeys and apes do not have the ability of speech, one would not expect to see such a variation in these animals. However, Brinkman believes that she has discovered a trend in monkeys’ brains which suggests the same asymmetry seen in human brains.

American researchers, Geschwind and Galaburda’s research on human embryos led to the discovery that a left-right asymmetry is evident before birth. However, there are many other variables which can affect brain development along the way. Initially, all brains begin as female, becoming male brains if the male fetus secretes hormones. Geschwind and Galaburda were aware of the way that the sides of the brain mature at different rates; the right hemisphere develops first, then the left. Moreover, a female brain develops slightly more quickly than a male brain. During a fetal brain’s development, a male brain is more likely to be affected, and the left hemisphere is also more likely to be affected. The brain may lose some lateralization, resulting in left-handedness as well as a tendency towards skills which are typically associated with the left brain's hemisphere, such as logic, rationality, and abstraction. It is possible that this explanation captures why professionals such as mathematicians and architects tend to be left-handed more often, as well as a higher occurrence of left-handed males than females.

These results may be of comfort to those left-handed people who have been traditionally marginalized or berated by society for centuries. Mr. Charles Moore, a writer and journalist, believes that even the word “right” upholds unfounded beliefs on the use of one hand being considered preferable to the other. Moore claims that our language subliminally reinforces this notion that the right side is good, while the left is potentially dangerous. In fact, the Latin word “sinister” actually means “left.” According to Moore, “it is no coincidence that left-handed children, forced to use their right hand, often develop a stammer as they are robbed of their freedom of speech.”  However, as more research is undertaken on the causes of left-handedness, attitudes towards left-handed people are gradually changing for the better. Indeed when the champion tennis player Ivan Lendl was asked what the single thing was that he would choose in order to improve his game, he said he would like to become left-handed.

The text mentions "Left-handed children often develop a stammer when they are forced to use their right hand". The text does not mention "Left-handed people are more likely to develop a stammer".



This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 27-40.
Questions 27-33
Look at the following Opinions (Questions 27-33) and List of people below.

Match each opinion with the correct person

Write the correct number A-E in boxes Questions 27-33 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.
List of people
  1. Dr. Broca
  2. Dr. Brinkman
  3. Geschwind and Galaburda
  4. Charles Moore
  5. Professor Turner

27. Speech development is dependent on which hand the speaker mostly uses

28. Monkeys’ brains are similar to the brains of human beings, even though they do not have a capability for language

29. Human beings departmentalize their thinking

30. We unconsciously prefer things on the right and tend to mistrust things on the left

31. During pregnancy an unborn male child’s brain develops more slowly than that of a female child’s

32. People who suffer strokes on the left side of the brain usually lose their power of speech and experience paralysis in the right-hand side of their bodies.

33. The two sides of the brain develop different functions before birth.

Questions 34-40
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 34-40 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE   if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE   if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on this.

34. Human beings started to show a preference for left-handedness when they first developed  language.

35. After a stroke, left-handed people recover their speech more quickly than right-handed people.

36. Monkeys show a species-specific preference for left or right-handedness.

37. A study of macaque monkeys has shown that monkey brains are asymmetric

38. Male brains mature later than those of females, and the right hemisphere matures later than the left.

39. Boys are more likely to be left-handed.

40. Left-handed people are more likely to develop a stammer




Answer Sheet
1
N/A
2
N/A
3
N/A
4
N/A
5
N/A
6
N/A
7
N/A
8
N/A
9
N/A
10
N/A
11
N/A
12
N/A
13
N/A
14
N/A
15
N/A
16
N/A
17
N/A
18
N/A
19
N/A
20
N/A
21
N/A
22
N/A
23
N/A
24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40


Reading Passage Vocabulary
Human Right/Left Hand Dominance


Research suggests that humans are not the only members of several species in the animal kingdom which exhibit handedness, meaning the preference for one hand over the other. Handedness is related to lateral asymmetry, which refers to physical and functional aspects between sides of the brain. It appears that nine out of ten humans throughout history have preferred to use their right hand, and that eight of ten were right foot dominant. Australian professor Bryan Turner at Deakin University has concluded that handedness is a part of overall sidedness through his research on left handedness. Turner believes that there is something methodical about this distinctive asymmetry found exclusively in humans. He says “Humans think in categories: black and white, up and down, left and right. It is a system of signs that enables us to categorize phenomena that are essentially ambiguous,” when describing lateral asymmetry.

A genetic link, or some kind of inherited trait, has been also attributed to hand preference, though there is no guarantee that a right or left handed person’s child will have the same hand preference. On the other hand, left-handedness does tend to run in families. In fact, around 6 percent of children whose  parents are both right hand dominant will end up left-handed. Meanwhile, among children with two left-handed parents, up to 40 percent grow up left-handed, too. The occurrence of left-handed children with one left-handed and one right-handed parent typically ranges from about 15 to 20 percent. Amazingly enough,one in six pairs of identical twins will differ in their handed preference in spite of having the same genes.

If hand preference goes beyond genetics alone, there must be other unknown variables at play. To learn more, researchers have closely studied the brain in regard to this subject. French surgeon and anthropologist, Dr. Paul Broca, found that patients in the 1860’s who had lost the ability to speak due to a stroke (a blood clot in the brain) would also become paralyzed on the right side of their body. From this, Broca realized that because the left hemisphere of the brain controls the right half of the body and vice versa, the brain damage must have been in the brain’s left hemisphere. Psychologists have theorized that 95 percent of right-handed people’s language centers are in the left hemisphere of their brains, while 5 percent have language centers on the right side. Surprisingly enough, left-handed people do not show the exact reverse of this, and instead, a majority have their language center located in the left hemisphere, with some 30 percent in the right hemisphere.

At the Australian National University in Canberra, Dr. Brinkman has suggested that human speech evolved alongside a preference for the right hand. From her research, Brinkman believes that one side of the brain became specialized for fine motor skills, which are necessary for speech and as the brain continued to evolve for speech, the right-hand preference emerged. According to Brinkman, the majority of left-handed people exhibit left hemisphere dominance with some capacity in the right hemisphere as well. Dr. Brinkman has observed that a left-handed person with brain-damage to the left hemisphere is often able to recover speech ability more effectively. She thinks this phenomenon can be explained by left-handed people’s tendency towards bilateral speech function.

Dr. Brinkman's research has expanded her research into primates as well. In her studies of macaque monkeys, she found that the year-old babies appeared to learn either hand preference from their mothers. In humans, on the other hand, specialization of the two hemispheres’ functions actually creates physical differences in the anatomy of the brain, with areas associated with speech production often being larger on the left side than on the right. Because monkeys and apes do not have the ability of speech, one would not expect to see such a variation in these animals. However, Brinkman believes that she has discovered a trend in monkeys’ brains which suggests the same asymmetry seen in human brains.

American researchers, Geschwind and Galaburda’s research on human embryos led to the discovery that a left-right asymmetry is evident before birth. However, there are many other variables which can affect brain development along the way. Initially, all brains begin as female, becoming male brains if the male fetus secretes hormones. Geschwind and Galaburda were aware of the way that the sides of the brain mature at different rates; the right hemisphere develops first, then the left. Moreover, a female brain develops slightly more quickly than a male brain. During a fetal brain’s development, a male brain is more likely to be affected, and the left hemisphere is also more likely to be affected. The brain may lose some lateralization, resulting in left-handedness as well as a tendency towards skills which are typically associated with the left brain's hemisphere, such as logic, rationality, and abstraction. It is possible that this explanation captures why professionals such as mathematicians and architects tend to be left-handed more often, as well as a higher occurrence of left-handed males than females.

These results may be of comfort to those left-handed people who have been traditionally marginalized or berated by society for centuries. Mr. Charles Moore, a writer and journalist, believes that even the word “right” upholds unfounded beliefs on the use of one hand being considered preferable to the other. Moore claims that our language subliminally reinforces this notion that the right side is good, while the left is potentially dangerous. In fact, the Latin word “sinister” actually means “left.” According to Moore, “it is no coincidence that left-handed children, forced to use their right hand, often develop a stammer as they are robbed of their freedom of speech.”  However, as more research is undertaken on the causes of left-handedness, attitudes towards left-handed people are gradually changing for the better. Indeed when the champion tennis player Ivan Lendl was asked what the single thing was that he would choose in order to improve his game, he said he would like to become left-handed.

The text mentions "Left-handed children often develop a stammer when they are forced to use their right hand". The text does not mention "Left-handed people are more likely to develop a stammer".
 
IELTS Academic Reading Tips for Success
These are general tips that will appear on all reading questions.

Tips to improve your reading speed
To get a high score on the IELTS reading section, you need to have a fast reading speed. To have a fast reading speed, you need to improve your vocabulary and practice dissecting sentences. One strategy to dissect a sentence is to look for the subject and verb of the sentence. Finding the subject and verb will help you better understand the main idea of said sentence. Keep in mind, a common feature of a IELTS reading passage is to join strings of ideas to form long compound sentences. This produces large chunks that students have a hard time absorbing. Do not get overwhelmed by its length, just look for the subject and verb, the rest of the ideas will flow.


Keep in mind, having a slow reading speed makes skimming or scanning a reading passage more difficult. The process of quickly skimming through a reading passage for specific keywords or main ideas is a requirement for you to employ successful reading strategies to improve your IELTS reading score. In other words, skimming and scanning are critical skills to ensure you complete all questions in the allotted time frame.
IELTS Reading Strategies
Once you can read and comprehend a passage with a rate of, at least, 220 words per minute, you'll be ready to start implementing our strategies. All too often, students spend too much time reading the passages and not enough time answering the questions. Here is a step by step guide for tackling the reading section.

  1. Step 1: Read questions first

    One of the most common mistakes that candidates make when approaching the reading exam is reading every single word of the passages. Although you can practice for the exam by reading for pleasure, "reading blindly" (reading without any sense of what the questions will ask) will not do you any favors in the exam. Instead, it will hurt your chances for effectively managing your time and getting the best score.

    The main reason to read the questions first is because the type of question may determine what you read in the passage or how you read it. For example, some question types will call for the "skimming" technique, while others may call for the "scanning" technique.

    It is important to answer a set of questions that are of the same question type. You'll need to determine which question type you want to tackle first. A good strategy would be to start with the easier question type and move on to more difficult question types later. The Easiest question types are the ones where you spend less time reading. For example, the Matching Heading question type is an easier one because you only need to find the heading that best describes the main idea of a paragraph. An example of a difficult question type would be Identifying Information. For this question type, you'll need to read each paragraph to find out if each statement is TRUE, FALSE, or NOT GIVEN according to the passage.

    Here is a table that lists the difficulty levels for each question type. Use this table as a reference when choosing which question type you want to tackle first.


    Difficulty level Question Type
    Easy Sentence Completion
    Short answer
    Medium Matching Features
    Multiple choice
    Matching Headings
    Summary, Table, Flow-Chart Completion
    Difficult Matching Sentence Endings
    Matching Information
    Identifying Information (TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN)
    Identifying Viewer's claims (YES/NO/NOT GIVEN)

  2. Step 2: Read for an objective

    After you've read the questions for the passage, you will be able to read for an objective. What does this mean? For example, if you come across a question that includes the year "1896", you can make a note of when this year comes up in the text, using it to answer the question later on. There are two reading techniques that will help you stay on track with reading for an objective. The first one, skimming, is best defined as reading fast in order to get the "gist", or general idea, or a passage. With this technique, you are not stopping for any unfamiliar words or looking for specific details. The second technique, scanning, is best defined as reading for specific information. With this technique, you are not reading for the overall gist, but rather, specific information. Notice how each of these techniques has a specific objective in mind. This will help you find information more quickly.

  3. Step 3: Take notes

    As you're reading for an objective, you should also be making notes on the margins of the passage, placing stars next to key information, or underlining things that you believe will help you answer the various questions. This will make it easier for you to check back when you are asked certain things in the questions. Choose whichever note-taking system is right for you - just make sure you do it!

  4. Step 4: Answer wisely

    After you've read the questions, read the passage, and have taken any appropriate notes, you you should have located the part of the text where you where you need to read carefully. Then just read carefully and think critically to determine the correct answer.

IELTS Reading Question Types
 
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